HMRC launches mobile red diesel lab to tackle illicit fuel trade

HM Revenue & Customs can now test for traces of red diesel at the roadside, making it easier to crack down on fuel fraudsters

Red diesel enforcement measures have been intensified, after HM Revenue & Customs announced that they have acquired new mobile fuel analysis equipment.

This means that HMRC officials can now test fuel samples at the side of the road to find out if they contain traces of red diesel.

Previously samples had to be taken back to a laboratory, which slowed down the process of prosecuting red diesel fraudsters.

Damian Hinds, exchequer secretary to the Treasury, unveiled the new equipment in Belfast yesterday (July 27).

The minister (pictured above) said that it is part of the Government’s ongoing efforts to crack down on tax evasion:

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“At a time when the government’s priority is cutting the deficit, it is unacceptable that criminals are cheating the system,” he said.

It is estimated that red diesel laundering costs the Government around £80 million per year in lost taxes.

This practice is particularly rife in Northern Ireland, with an estimated 13% of diesel containing traces of the illicit fuel.

Red diesel is marked to denote its tax-free use in boating and agriculture, however criminal gangs have been prosecuted for removing the dye and selling it on to motorists for a profit.

The most recent case came in December 2014, when two illegal red diesel laundering plants in Kent and Merseyside were raided, leading to eight arrests.

At the time, Sandra Smith, assistant director of criminal investigation at HMRC, warned that red diesel laundering can generate “tonnes of toxic waste” and damage fuel pumps.


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